How This Event Tech Company Is Repurposing Old Headphones Into Earmuffs for the Homeless

New York-based QuietEvents is kick-starting a philanthropic program to help the homeless and combat e-waste.

Quiet Events
Headphones for the Homeless—a program to turn wireless headphones into working earmuffs—now has a GoFundMe campaign to get the word out and gather supporting resources.
Photo: Courtesy of Quiet Events

Most of us have sat in at an education session with headphones on silent disco-style to drown out the surrounding noises that come with live events (oh, how we miss that noise!). As all event pros who work some sort of rental equipment know, they don't last forever! But instead of tossing broken headphones to the side, Quiet Events CEO and founder William Petz is on a new mission to give back with his team's new Headphones for the Homeless initiative, which officially launches next week and aims to help New York's homeless population by repurposing unusable headphones into warm earmuffs for the cold months.

Here, Petz talks about the inspiration behind this program, how event pros can show their support and more.

Where did the inspiration come from to kick-start Headphones for the Homeless?
Quiet Events—for the past almost nine years—has collected over 1,000 broken silent disco headphones. We did not throw them away because of e-waste and every year saying there has to be something we can do with them. We thought of making it an art project, donating them to a technical school, but we could never find someone that wanted them. Recently, we discussed what we could do, as we have to do something as we clean up our office; we said how they keep our ears warm when we party outside, leading us to donate them to the homeless. However, instead of donating them with just our earpads on them, we thought to get people to make ear coverings, so they’ll feel better and be a bit warmer.

The program officially launches next week. How do you envision it operating?
We would get people to make earmuff coverings by knitting or cutting up old T-shirts. One of our T-shirt manufactures said they may be able to get custom ones made, and even a sponsor to get them to pay for them with their logo on it. If that happens, awesome! We would then hire someone full time for the project to manage this yearly to identify locations around the city that we could distribute them.

What are your goals for the program this year?
I would love for us to be able to find places that want them and a way to make the earmuff coverings. I’d love to get at least some donated, but if it starts warming up; this may need to wait till winter later this year. I have no problem keeping them in storage and having everything perfect for next year if that's what it takes to maximize the use of them.

How can the event industry support this mission?
If anyone has any connections to organizations that can benefit from the headphones, please let me know. This could be homeless, kids or anything else creative. If there are any brands that want to sponsor to get ear muff coverings made to put on them; that would be awesome. We have enough people that will volunteer to put them on. We are open to other uses for the headphones. The goal is not to throw them out and cause more waste but to reuse them for something else.

Want to help out with Quiet Events' mission to help the homeless? Email Petz here

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